Description of Individual or organization
Maria is the co-founder, majority owner, President, and Operations Manager of Recycle Revolution LLC, although those titles hardly do her true role justice. In addition to overseeing the trajectory of our company and the daily delivery of our services to Clients, Maria handles the vast majority of our customer service, sales, and office work (phone calls, proposals, etc.), and still finds time to cook (for the whole staff each Wednesday!), clean (not an easy task at a recycling center!), and be a constant source of positivity and care. She has done this--leading our organization in nearly all facets--since 2014. In short, she's our heart, and without her there would be no Recycle Revolution: no singularly welcoming, trustworthy place to go for North Texans looking to recycle or compost their strange (or common) items or learn about responsible resource recovery practices; no responsible collection service for bars, restaurants, or hotels to recyc le their glass bottles or post-consumer food scraps. Throughout our decade of existence (we turn 10 in 2018!), Maria has been our lone constant. She's why we're here, why we're growing, why we will remain a part of this community for the forseeable future. She is the revolution.
Leadership (Nominee demonstrates leadership through example, knowledge, attitude)
She comes to work for the 'early' shift (6am!), stays until the end of the 'late' shift (4pm), and works as many days per week (5) as anyone on staff (much of our staff works 4 days per week). If our business phone rings 5 times, it automatically transfers directly to her cell phone instead of voicemail (her idea!). The woman doesn't take time off. She's taken just a handful of short vacations over the past 3 years, since she swooped in and rescued Recycle Revolution from what looked like impeding doom in 2014. Ten years into this crazy (recycling/composting/sustainability) industry, Maria is as relentless a worker as she ever was, as energetic as she ever was, as determined as she ever was, driven by a passion for this company and a will to succeed that is simply awe-inspiring. She can be strict with her employees and, at times, unwilling to compromise with her partners, but no one--not even the most disgruntled former e mployee--would ever accuse her of being unfair; rather, she is known for her empathy; for giving second (and sometimes third, but don't tell anyone!) chances. Her clear expectations, fairness, empathy, unparalleled work ethic, determination to succeed, and willingness to do what's right by the company have fostered a team culture that is uniquely productive, respectful, comfortable, loving, and accountable. We are a family now. Maria (my mom, and the world's best business partner) has turned this boat around, repaired and fortified its hull, made better workers of (and fed!) the crew, and given us all reason to hope that the best is still to come. Recycle Revolution sails again.
Environmental Impact (Nominee demonstrates a positive impact on the local environment via policy change, product offering, significant volunteer contribution or other achievement):
Of the many sneakily environmentally-impactful innovations RR has brought to the North Texas resource recovery industry over the past decade, the newest incarnation of our food waste collection program is pretty impactful. Under Maria's leadership, our company has gone from diverting a handful of tons (5? 10?) of food waste from local landfills per month in 2014 to nearly 100 tons per month in 2017. One hundred tons. That's 200,000 pounds per month, or 12,000 tons (or 2,444,000 pounds) per year. With food waste being our second fastest-growing stream, that number is hopefully set to rise. Other streams that RR has increased dramatically in 2017 include e-waste (discarded electronics), plastics (our fastest-growing stream in 2017, jumping by at least 2,000%). All this while undergoing a very drawn-out relocation process (from 7600 Sovereign Row to 6835 Forest Park Rd, near Love Field Airport) in March '17.
Community Impact (Nominee demonstrates commitment to DFW green community through involvement with causes, business ventures or organizations)
Maria's commitment to sustainability and the North Texas green community is visible through both her initiatives at RR and in her personal life. At RR, she has begun hosting summer community classes, with topics including recycling, upcycling, and composting. She personally separates hundreds of children's books received at our Center each month and donates them to various charities and outlets around DFW, including VA hospitals, schools, Shriners International, and more. She also makes the books available to any and all visitors to our Center (I should point out that RR could receive quite a bit of money for recycling the books--a standard operating procedure for most recycling centers!). She works with local green industry businesses at every opportunity, preferring to steer recyclables to Dallas-based companies over national and multi-national companies (given similar environmental practices) at nearly every opportunity. Outside of RR, sh e proudly and loudly trumpets local green businesses to her friends and large (and decidedly not-quite-as-green!) family, and she patronizes those businesses loyally and frequently. I guarantee you she has never once thought of herself as an 'advocate' or 'champion' for the North Texas green community, but that's exactly what she is. Recognition has never been a motive for her; she supports her fellow green industry peers because she believes in them and their causes. For someone who works as much as she does (and often looks after my grandkids on the weekends!), I don't know how she is able to go out to these businesses as much as she does, but she always makes the time.
Other reasons for your nomination
I left RR in 2014. I was the founder. I created the brand, created the culture, the vision, the strategies, services, operational procedures, website. When I decided to call it quits in early 2014, I was burned out; beyond ready (although not anxious) to close the doors and move on with my life--a life that didn't involve 13-hour days, 6 days a week anymore. When Maria told me and my dad that she wanted to keep it going, that she was willing to do what it took to turn the company around, I was absolutely floored. I'd seen my mom beat all the odds way too many times before to count her out. Her energy and drive are unprecedented. But I also suspected that it would be much harder to keep going than she thought, for reasons too plentiful to outline here (for your sake! :D ). Of course, I promised her I would help along the way as needed, but the truth is that she has rarely asked for my help. Instead, I'm the one who needed it. When I cam e back to the company in 2015, after spending nearly 2 years away from the company I'd founded, I was just so unbelievably shocked and happy for her. She'd turned the culture around, turned the budget around, changed the location, changed the feel of the work day, the hours of operation... but she never changed the underlying purpose for our company: to foster a culture of recycling, serve businesses who care, and use our success to give back to our community. Maria protected those things like they were absolutely sacred, all while building a new company around them. She is the truest protector RR could ever have, its best possible leader, a person I wish everyone had the privilege to work with, even for just a little while. She isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination (trust me, as her son AND partner I would know! lol), but she is a truly great business leader, a truly unsung hero in our community, and a source of inspiration and empathy to anyone who has had the privilege to work alongside her. She could have won this award every single year between 2014 and now as far as I'm concerned, and maybe even the years before (now that I know she was more important than me even when I was there full-time! :D ). But this is the year that feels right. I hope this is her year. She deserves it. Our community is better because of her, and so many of us don't even know it.